Most obnoxious author award revived

The Golden Dartboard is back, and some writers are hopping mad.

Published January 6, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

Prompted by a wistful
article by humorist Calvin Trillin and a grass-roots groundswell of support, the Golden Dartboard Award is back, and the return of this dubious distinction -- bestowed on the most obnoxious author on a book tour -- has already triggered rumblings of rebellion.

Until the award was put out to pasture six years ago, the Golden Dartboard winner was chosen annually by members of the Media Escort Network, a professional group for regional publicists (most of them women) who schlep visiting authors around town. The award, a dartboard with the author's mug pinned to it, was displayed to members at a private ceremony at the American Booksellers Association convention (since renamed BookExpo America). Previous winners include Lord Jeffrey Archer, Martha Stewart and Faye Dunaway.

However, after the network's newsletter, "Pro-Motion," announced last month that the group had voted to revive the award, three prominent authors decided to boycott the network. So who are these miffed and mysterious scribes? "They're not bestsellers, but pretty good-sellers," says an insider, who wouldn't name names but did mention that one author wrote fiction, the other two nonfiction.

One important media escort isn't worried about an author backlash. "Frankly, it doesn't worry me. The sweetie-pie authors won't care," says Kathi Goldmark, the San Francisco co-founder (and official bearer) of the Golden Dartboard Award, who along with her fellow co-founder Emily Laisy will oversee the ceremony at this year's BookExpo America in Chicago. "Now the biggest challenge is to find the biggest jerk of the year."

Boston media escort Sally Carpenter is not pleased with the Golden Dartboard's revival. "I certainly wouldn't vote for it. I think it's personal and vindictive," she said. "My feeling as a media escort is that we're professional, and this is not professional."

By Craig Offman

Craig Offman is the New York correspondent for Salon Books.

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